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G o o d   M o r n i n g !
Monday, June 5, 2006

The purpose of the Detail is to help keep you informed of the current state of affairs in the latent print community, to provide an avenue to circulate original fingerprint-related articles, and to announce important events as they happen in our field.
Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac

'10-Second' Bank Robber Captured in Indiana CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, IL - Jun 1, 2006 ...fingerprints recovered from a demand note at one of the robberies led police to suspect...

Expert Confident Fingerprint is That of IRA Accused   IRISH EXAMINER, IRELAND - May 30, 2006 ...fingerprint expert has told the court that he is happy beyond any doubt that a fingerprint mark left in a van...

Fingerprint Experts Appear Before MSPs   SCOTSMAN, UK - May 30, 2006 ...experts at the center of the McKie scandal are insisting that they have been right all along...

Print Experts Defend Role in McKie Case   SCOTSMAN, UK - May 31, 2006 ...speaking publicly for the first time, the four officers of the SCRO remain certain that the print belonged to McKie...

Recent CLPEX Posting Activity
Last Week's Board topics containing new posts
Moderated by Steve Everist
There they go again.
Pat A. Wertheim Sat Jun 03, 2006 5:00 pm

Amicus and Appellate Thoughts
L.J.Steele Sat Jun 03, 2006 2:25 am

Congratulation to Dave Charlton
Dr. Dror Fri Jun 02, 2006 4:01 pm

'I am Shirley McKie'
Iain McKie Fri Jun 02, 2006 1:51 pm

flying monkey Thu Jun 01, 2006 10:03 pm

Video's and Reading Material
Michele Triplett Thu Jun 01, 2006 3:48 pm

DNA McKie Case
EmmaC Tue May 30, 2006 5:48 pm

Need Testing
txlegal Tue May 30, 2006 3:30 pm

Iraq jobs
Kathy Saviers Tue May 30, 2006 1:58 pm

Forensic Science Degrees
EmmaC Tue May 30, 2006 11:51 am



Updated the Detail Archives


Last week

we linked to the National Academy of Sciences Colloquium on Forensic Science and the Law to experience multimedia presentations.

This week

we read about how all that perseverance as a latent print examiner can finally pay off.  Don't get discouraged looking for that one latent print you have burned in your mind for years... you know the one - the print you re-search on AFIS, check against new suspects from that area or crime type... the one you'll "never forget". 

For Daniel Perruzza, those years of persistence finally paid off.  His story serves as inspiration for latent print examiners around the world who have not yet nabbed the person associated with the ridges in their mind... but who still persist day after day, wondering if they are just crazy... or if there is a chance.  Thanks, Daniel, for serving as proof that there is that chance!

He Fingers Bad Guys

Nails Serial Rape Suspect after 9 yrs. checking prints for match

Patrice O'Shaughnessy
Daily News Staff Writer, New York Daily News
Copyright Daily News, L.P. May 22, 2006, p. 14

Hero of the Month spotlights those men and women, civil servants and civilians, who go beyond the call of duty to make New York a better place.

Detective 1st Grade Daniel Perruzza toils away in a fifth-floor office at Police Headquarters, using a sophisticated computer system to analyze finger- and palm prints lifted at crime scenes. But he also relies on a magnifying glass held together with rubber bands that he's used since he started in the latent-print section more than 20 years ago.

On April 26, the fingerprints of a man arrested in a routine traffic stop the night before were sent to the NYPD central database of criminal prints on file, and there was no match. Then they were sent for comparison to the unsolved cases file, which Perruzza trolls daily.

The print from the man's right forefinger popped up on Perruzza's computer screen.

"Wait, I know this print," Perruzza said. "It can't be possible. . . ."

For nine years, he had entered and reentered the faint latent print of the right index finger belonging to a serial rapist, lifted from the scene of an attack in Queens in 1995.

"I had homed in on the print for years. I put it in 50 to 60 times over the years - enhanced it," said Perruzza. "I pulled the ink card to make sure, and looked at it with the glass.

"I said, 'This is the finger we've been looking for . . . the rape pattern in Queens. . . . This is the guy!'"

Queens sex-crimes detectives were notified, and they arrested the man that day.

Jauan Griffith, 27, of Hillside Ave. was indicted on the 1995 rape as well as rapes in March and July of 2004. A criminal complaint charges him with two other rapes, in 1997 and 2004.

Griffith, dubbed the Ponytailed Rapist, allegedly struck for more than a decade in Laurelton and Queens Village, entering victims' open windows when they were asleep. In three cases, he allegedly attacked at knifepoint.

For Perruzza's patience and determination in the painstaking, anonymous side of detective work, he is the Daily News Hero of the Month.

"I'm not a hero, I just work hard, and in this work you need a lot of patience," said Perruzza, 50, a 24-year veteran of the NYPD. "The people in the detective squads are heroes."

But his supervisor, Sgt. Kevin FitzGerald, lauded Perruzza.

"He has been working on it since 1995, and even though the perp went away [for years between attacks], Daniel never gave up, and that's the story with a multitude of cases."

Perruzza has been in the latent-print section for 22 years.

"Some cases stick with you," Perruzza said. "Like the East Side Rapist, we have prints from stairwells and lobbies of buildings, and we keep comparing them to people arrested. The Queens case was like that. These women's lives were ruined. They lived in fear because the guy hadn't been caught."

The NYPD began an automated fingerprint identification system in 1990. Instead of manually comparing fingerprint arrest cards with prints from crime scenes, the prints are scanned into computers, which analyze state and federal databases of criminals for matches.

The detectives in the latent-print section mark certain characteristics of the prints - whorls, loops, arches, ridges, breaks and other distinguishing marks.

"You have to take your time plotting it out," Perruzza said. "If you put the plotting in wrong, they would never hit on the guy."

The computer pulls up known criminals whose prints share enough common points. The NYPD requires at least eight points for a possible match. The detectives compare the prints side-by-side on the computer - then make a printout and use a magnifying glass to examine it.

"I like the old ink cards better," said Perruzza. "The ink cards used to speak to you."

He held the card with the 1995 latent print of what analyzers call the No. 2 finger, pointing out characteristics he had come to know by heart. When the same fingerprint showed up at a rape scene in 1997, sex-crimes cops declared a pattern.

Griffith had never been arrested before April 25, when he was pulled over on a Brooklyn street for driving with a suspended license. He was fingerprinted and released with a desk appearance ticket.

The next morning, Perruzza was staring at Griffith's fingerprint, zeroing in on a short ridge as his focal point.

"When I was looking at it, I was getting a little excited," said Perruzza. "I called over Detective Arthur Connolly, and he helped me compare.

"Luck is a big factor. If [Griffith] hadn't been arrested, we wouldn't have caught him, and he could have done it again."

Perruzza was born in Italy and came to the U.S. when he was 3 years old. He grew up on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx, and got a degree in biology from Fordham University. He and his wife, Theresa, have three daughters: Daniella, Andrea and Toni Marie.

He has testified in court 185 times. He studies as many as 300 fingerprint comparisons a day in preparation for major prosecutions of murders, rapes and robberies.

"It's a great feeling," said Perruzza.

"After 22 years, I still get excited to catch a bad guy."


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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.

Have a GREAT week!